Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Book of Life - 4

I finally finished 'Annihilation of Caste' by B.R. Ambedkar. One may or may not agree with his thoughts, but I strongly believe people should read this speech at least once.

Later, I picked up Richard Feynman's 'What Do You Care What Other People Think?'. I liked the book immediately. He started with his childhood days and how his father explained concepts to him, and how he began looking at things for what they are. There are some interesting incidents, such as finding a logical explanation for miracles mentioned by priests. On another occasion as a child, he believed in a story until the narrator admitted to spiking it to get attention. After hearing this the kid started crying. The book later goes through the courtship with his wife, their subsequent marriage, and the initial misdiagnosis of her disease. The misdiagnosis occurred because the doctors overlooked an obvious disease that explained her symptoms.

A good portion of the book is dedicated to explaining his role as a member of the presidential commission investigating the shuttle accident. It discusses how information did not move up the chain of command and how often and easily the data and opinions provided by people directly working on the machines and engineers on the ground were disregarded. There is a part where Feynman asks a group and their manager to write down the probability of shuttle accident; while engineers wrote a possible value, their manager provided an impossible probability. It's really insightful to read about how their commission worked.

Without telling you about 'Feynman's Lectures on Physics,' this is not complete. I heard about this book a long time ago when I was in senior secondary. During my first year in college, I found this book in the post-graduation section of the library. This book had a reputation for explaining physics concepts in simple, understandable terms. The problem was that the book was in English, and for someone like me who went through the vernacular medium (i.e., Malayalam) throughout school life, it was not an easy task to go through a book purely due to my interest in physics. I wish these books were translated into local languages and available in all libraries. That time, I read the first book in the series and then left it on the rack.


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